An uplifting story for a Monday – SMOKE THE DONKEY!

Have you heard this story?  I found it on FB and I wanted to play it forward today.


It started in Fallujah on a Marine Corp base in 2008.  There was a marine who decided to catch one of the many donkeys wandering the base.  Being an adept donkey catcher, the marine was successful and consequently tied the newly haltered donkey to the tent of his base Colonel.

Upon rising, Colonel Folsom found the donkey.  Of course, the Marines fell in love with the little burro… they fed him and patched the wounds on his legs.  He was their mascot.  They named him SMOKE because of his color and his sneaky donkey way of snatching ciggys, lit or not.

The troops loved him!


Sadly, pets are not allowed in a war zone…  My Hubby has many sad stories about pets/animals in Iraq when he was there.  So sad…

Anyway, of course the men were very attached to Smoke and he definitely boosted morale.  So, Folsom helped arrange for a Navy lieutenant to clear the little donkey as a therapy animal – and he was allowed to stay.


Smoke was so popular, people from home started sending him care packages.  He would receive treats and burro blankets.  The men continued to write home about Smoke… this little guy was stealing hearts and keeping spirits up.


Eventually, the troops left.  Smoke couldn’t come with the troop so he was left in the care of an Army major who gave the donkey to a sheik, for whatever reason.


In October of 2010, Folsom decided he wanted Smoke back in the USA.  Folsom had left the Marines and was now the head of Wounded Warriors Family Support, a non-profit that helps the families of service members who do not come back from war.

Folsom went to great lengths to track down the sheik who had Smoke.  Greedily, the sheik wanted $30,000 to release the burro.

Ummm.  Folsom told the sheik that as long as the donkey was happy there, all was good (called his bluff).

I guess the sheik thought about it and decided to give back Smoke for free.  Hmmmmm. Imagine that…

Smoke grazing as he awaits his flight to his new home


The challenge, of course, is clearing Smoke for travel to the US  – and arranging (paying for) the travel.  So, Folsom contacted Operation Baghdad Pups program which is run by the SPCA International.  They agreed to provide transport.

Since Smoke is a large animal, he has to be transported by Cargo plane.  And, from what we hear, Smoke should be on terra firma by the end of January.  At this moment, he is awaiting a flight out of Arbil, Iraq!

When he lands here, he will live at TAKE FLIGHT FARMS in Omaha.  This is a group who help children and adults cope with disabilities and psychological ailments.  Since Smoke was such a wonderful cure for all the Marines in Iraq, it is thought that Smoke will do wonders at Take Flight Farms.


Smoke barely has a page on Facebook, but you can follow his “discussion” on the SPCA page.  Here is the link.


I wanted to share a bit about the man who initiated bringing Smoke home, Colonel John Folsom.  Wow.  He seems like a great guy… Part of his program for the families of not returning soldiers is to bring them to Florida for some heart lifting fun.  You can read about his program via this link.

Here is a small part of his bio.

“Colonel Folsom’s military decorations include the Navy-Marine Corps Medal for heroism, the Bronze Star and Meritorious Service medals awarded for his meritorious service in support of Operation “Iraqi Freedom”.”

You can read more about him here.

Colonel Folsom


My sentiments are that donkeys are really easy, they are hearty, sweet, protective, smart and wonderful.  If you have the room, the time and the resources, PLEASE add a donkey to your herd.  You cannot help but fall in love with them.

After all, would a horse have as much success with an entire troop of men?  Maybe… But a donkey was surely successful because he KNEW.  Very wise, very kind and very gentle.

Rescue a Donkey today!

–look on your local Craigslist

–contact the BLM and find an adoption date, location or online adoption

–inquire at a Donkey rescue, here are a few (or google for your area…):

Amberwood Sanctuary, Leary, GA
(912) 792-6246

Crossroads Donkey Rescue. Grayling, MI

Longhopes Donkey Shelter, Bennett, CO

Peaceful Valley Donkey Rescue

Redwings, CA

Terra Patre Rescue and Wildlife Preserve, Belen, NM

Turning Pointe Donkey Rescue, Dansville, MI
(517) 623-0000

Wild Burro Rescue, Olancha, CA

Forever Homes, Arizona:

Donkeys are WONDERFUL!

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth… if you like this, please pass it around!


To learn all about the Bucket Fund and to donate the the ‘Saved from Slaughter Orphan Foals’, please click on the photo (photo credit, Trish Lowe)

The end of the month is drawing near! Please help!

HORSE AND MAN is a blog in growth... if you like this, please pass it around!

8 comments have been posted...

  1. Arlene Caldwell

    What a lovely story,I hope and wish that many more donkeys, dogs, cats and other troop friends can be saved and maybe even re-united with some of their troopers once they have returned home from the warzones :-)

  2. buckinhard

    Wonderful story, I don’t enough of the stories you tell !!!! xx to you and Smoke xx

  3. Robynne Catheron

    When I was stationed in that region, it would have been a Godsend to have had a sweet little mascot like Smoke. Alas, all we had were hungry little mice… Ooo-rah, Col Folsom, and Semper Fi. But now, in my retirement years, I am blessed with two of the darling little creatures, and not only are they great company for the horses, they are exceptional guard animals. They definitely keep us laughing with their antics! Thanks for another wonderful post that hit home once again.

  4. Donna

    My stepson is a new Marine and through all the Hype about being Big tough men – there are more and more stories about Marines like this one coming to light every day. OOHRAH Col Folsom and all the folks that helped Smoke.

    Marines are… Semper Fi – Always Faithful and this story shows it :}

  5. Mimi Foxmorton

    Oh, this is a most wondrous story!
    And yes, donkeys ARE wonderful!
    We have our own dear Elvis on the farm who is a hoot!

    Thanks for sharing!

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